on 20 August 2013
We recently bought this laptop as a replacement for a four year-old HP of similar value at the time. The fact that it's touchscreen was not a factor in the purchase - why anyone would want a touchscreen on a laptop is beyond me. Anyway, having looked around all the available machines in the £400-£600 price bracket, this one came out on top. In terms of the hardware, I don't think there are any alternatives (at time of writing) in this price range with 8MB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. The standard is either 4 or 6MB with a 500MB drive, so this machine has a lot packed into it in terms of memory and storage.
The i3 CPU is obviously a budget option, and the i5 in some of the alternatives would be quicker - however, the laptop is primarily a word processing machine/internet browsing machine for us, so raw power is not that important. If you're using it for work, and you process graphics or music or manipulate large spreadsheets then you'd probably be better looking at an i5-based laptop with less RAM and storage space to balance the cost.
The battery life is advertised (I think) at 6.5 hours. I'm not getting that out of this battery. With internet viewing, some word processing, and a the odd bit of video streaming I'd guess it's closer to about 4. I could maybe stretch that out by dimming the screen down and turning down the performance, but that just slows things down. You will struggle to get a full days' work out of this machine without a power supply.
On the upside, it's nice and slim, light, and the biuld quality is good. It's more plastic-y than some of the higher priced alternatives, but it all fits together nicely and the keyboard feels firm and well put together.
The downside to this machine is the O/S. Obviously it's unfair to downgrade the review of this particular machine because of Windows 8 because they ALL come with it now, so I haven't deducted any stars, but I ought to mention this just in case you're wondering whether to go for a Win8 machine or maybe find a cheaper one with an older O/S...
Windows 8 is garbage. Sure, sure - technically, it's probably better. It is probably more power and memory efficient than previous versions, it is probably better programmed, probably less prone to security issues, blah blah blah. Very good. The problem is the user interface. It is HORRIBLE. So HORRIBLE that I had to use capitals, and you know what - if this window had an option for bold, italics, and underlining I would have used those, too. It's as if someone decided to try and copy Apple by making everything with big-shiny-buttons, a nice easy media-consumption device... if I wanted that, I'd buy a friggin' Apple.
Out of the box, the laptop disconnects from wi-fi frequently when on battery power only. This isn't because the laptop is faulty, it's because the Windows power settings are crap. (If you have this problem, Google it and there are straightforward solutions available.) It likes to install programs as 'apps' instead, so to close them you have to fanny about 'swiping' and 'sliding' instead of just clicking the 'X' to close them. It wants to put everything into a nice, seamless view - well guess what, Microsoft? Some of us like the seams!
There are third-party programs you can install that make Windows 8 work a bit more like 7, but if you are wondering whether it's worth upgrading your computer and the Win8 thing is in your lists of 'reasons to upgrade', then scrub it out and write in your list of 'reasons to stick with what I have'.